VALDOSTA -- All students in the Valdosta City School System will be dismissed from school early Friday for homecoming.

Students at Valdosta High School will be dismissed at 1 p.m. All middle school students will be dismissed at 1:30 p.m. All elementary school students will be dismissed at 2 p.m.

School officials want to encourage all students to enjoy the Valdosta High School homecoming parade and participate in homecoming activities.

At 3 p.m., the high school's parade will begin at Brookwood Drive and travel north on Patterson Street to Mathis City Auditorium.

This year's theme is "Hooray for the USA."

"All the floats have an American theme this year," said Mary Ann Hand, teacher and parade advisor.

Hand said there are 32 participants in this year's parade, including the Marchin' Cats, the Naval ROTC, the Wildcat cheerleaders, various school clubs, individual classes, the homecoming court and Miss VHS.

"The winning float will receive the school spirit stick during halftime at the football game," Hand said.

The Valdosta High Wildcats vs. the Coffee High Trojans at 8 p.m. at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium Friday night.

Homecoming festivities will continue through Saturday night. Hand said the school is hosting its first homecoming dance in eight years at 8 p.m. in the school's cafeteria.

"We have sold over 300 tickets so far," Hand said. "We anticipate 700 to 1,000 students to attend the dance."

To contact reporter Jessica Pope, please call 244-3400, ext. 255.

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